Disaster management in overdrive

Estelle Ellis

IT is early on Sunday morning but the Nelson Mandela Bay Joint Operations Centre (JOC) at the South End Fire Station is still working at full speed. For most officials answering the phone, it is already day two in the hot seat trying to coordinate multiple relief efforts around Nelson Mandela Bay.

The walls of the JOC are covered by big screens showing parts of Nelson Mandela Bay most severely affected by the storms.

The phones ring non-stop and those calling in are helped by officials who, despite what is clearly tremendous pressure, try to remain calm and helpful.

On the screen, officials watch as a driver abandons his vehicle – an old white car – in the Chatty dip after it gets stuck.

Soon, two men – braving strong currents – approach the car, strip it of its battery and flee.

The officials’ viewing is interrupted as they receive an urgent message from the weather service about fresh storms approaching the Bay.

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